Nate Byham Ready To Explode

One doesn't get the impression that Nate Byham is a violent person, but just watching him go through Pitt's 7-on-7 off-season workouts it appears that the Panthers junior tight end can't wait to hit somebody.

That's because it's been a while since he's been able to do that. Nate Byham suffered a torn left knee ligament in Game 11 against South Florida and missed the big Pittsburgh win in the season-finale at West Virginia. Byham sat out spring drills, but should be ready to go for the fall.

"I overcame the injury pretty quickly, I feel, but it helped having linebacker Brian Kaiser rehabbing along with me,'' Byham said. "Brian tore the exact same ligament, the MPSL, which is pretty bizarre. It's an odd ligament to tear, and we tore the same one in the same game.

"So, having him beside me to rehab our injuries from the very beginning was great. We had the best surgeon doing the operation. Rob (Blanc and Pitt's trainers) did a great job taking care of me, and Buddy (Morris) took over from there. So, everything's been going great, and I feel real good.''

The MPSL ligament, Byham said, goes across the knee and holds the kneecap in place. It's not easy to tear, he noted, but it has given him a new appreciation for what can happen to an athlete and renewed enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

"After putting in all the extra hard work that I did to rehab the injury,'' Byham said, "even though I think I work pretty hard anyway, but you have to put in a lot of extra hard work to come back from a knee injury. And I think I worked really hard. Both me and (Kaiser) worked real hard.

"But now that it's feeling good, I don't want to take any chances and slack off. I'm keeping my work ethic as high as it's ever been just to keep my knee in great shape, and the rest of my body follows it. So, I can't have a letdown now, especially with camp coming up in another month and a half.''

Byham has been cleared to do everything, although there's not hitting during Pitt's 7-on-7 summer workouts, but at least he has no fear of a recurring problem with the knee or any other problems for that matter.

"I already think it's past for me,'' Byham said. "Sure, there's some soreness after I'm running for a while, but it feels good, really good. I don't notice it when I'm running my routes or anything like that.

"And Coach (Brian) Angelichio has told me that I look even more explosive coming off the ball than I have since I've been here. So, that's great to know, and I've gained some weight to about 255, close to 260, and feel real good with the added weight. So, I can't wait for the regular season to get here.''

Byham added that the sky's the limit for the Panthers this year, considering the solid depth that has developed the past couple of seasons, how close they came to winning more games last fall and how strongly they finished.

"We have a lot of talent on this team, on both sides of the ball,'' Byham noted. "We just have to continue to play as hard as we can, and I'm sure we'll start winning more games. We're very close now.''

And with Byham back to full strength, it's a good bet that he'll be a big part of Pitt's anticipated success.

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